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Mom shares her battle to bring breast milk on plane

A Texas mom found herself at the center of controversy for trying to bring breast milk onto a plane. The experience reflects the complexities of air travel this holiday season.
/ Source: TODAY

Vanessa Urango dialed up Delta airlines before heading to the airport recently with two weeks worth of breast milk, packed into a cooler filled with dry ice. The airline informed Urango she would be able check in the cooler with her luggage, but that's not what happened when she got to the airport.

“Out of three agents, no one could tell me what to do. They didn’t know what to do,” the Texas mother told TODAY’s Erica Hill. “They said basically, you can't take this cooler on the plane.”

Urango ultimately threw out the dry ice and carried the frozen breast milk with her on the plane. She said next time, she’ll get any guidance she receives from Delta in writing.

“If someone isn’t educated, as were these desk agents, that they don’t know their own company’s protocol, then at least you can show them what correct procedure is,” she said.

This holiday season is anticipated to break travel records, according to American Automobile Association, which estimates more than 100 million people will hit the highways and take to the skies in the upcoming weeks. That can mean plenty of headaches on the roads and especially at airport security checkpoints.

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For Urango, her breast milk wasn’t the problem at the airport — it was the dry ice. Travel expert Samantha Brown agreed that a hard copy of the rules could have helped Urango when dealing with agents.

“She did everything right. A lot of times it's just a miscommunication between customer service and the clerk who you are having face time with,” Brown said.

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The Transportation Security Administration says breast milk, baby formula and baby food and juices do not fall under the “3-1-1” liquid guidelines that limit fluids to three ounces, which means those items can be carried onto planes.

To reduce stress at security checkpoints, experts suggest checking the TSA website for any questions related to luggage. They also recommend that if you plan on bringing gifts, make sure they remain unwrapped until you reach your destination, even if the presents are packed away inside checked-in bags.

Brown also suggests doing a security line run-through with the entire family, especially for those who don't travel frequently.

“My top three tips for families traveling during the holidays is one, arrive with plenty of time,” she said. “Two, bring food so you don't get hungry and three, smile, breath. Everybody is in the same boat — or plane.”

For Urango, Delta is "working directly" with her to make amends, the airline told NBC in a statement. It has apologized and offered to reimburse her for the costs of preparing her breast milk.

“I just hope they use this as a lesson,” Urango said.